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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lemon fallout

I love lemons. I love them in my hot cup of good english tea, and I love them in my honey water when my throat is acting up. So, I would say that in general I love lemons - or so I thought.....

Our Daring Bakers Challenge this month was the Lemon Meringue Pie. I was pretty excited about it because the only other time I had made something similar as this was when I made the keylime pie and well, that didn't turn out the way I had wanted it to, so I was ready for this challenge. The only thing that made it a little less appealing was that I knew I would be the only one eating it. I knew Brandon wouldn't like the tartness of the lemons. It was funny watching him take a bite out of it thinking it would be more sweet than tart.
I must say the best part of the pie was the crust itself. I made a little adjustment with the amount of butter. I only added 1/2 C instead of the 3/4 C required in the recipe. I just like to lower my fat in everything and I didn't have any vegan butter on hand, so it only seemed fitting to reduce the amount, and honestly it came out nice and flaky all the same.
My mad crimping skills (not really) is shown above, prior to bakage.
I didn't really enjoy making the filling. I was kinda thinking it was more of a custard type filling since this is new to me, but it wasn't. It came out fine, and it didn't shrink and rip off the crust when it cooled and it set really well - or so I thought.
And the prettiest part of it all, the meringue topping, so nice and browned but I didn't really like the taste it of. It was like eating air, but crunchy air at the same time.I should have let it cool more before I cut into it but it was getting late and so I cut into it and it oozed. It was fine the next day and tasted even better than the day it was baked. I knew I was expecting tartness, but boy! was this filling eye twitching, lip smacking (not in a good way) tart!!! The next time I ate it I ended up scooping the majority of the filling and topping off and ate the crust! lol. I don't think I'll make this again and though our friend said that the tartness was typical of a lemon meringue pie but the filling was a little on the heavy side. It was a good challenge none the less, now I know what to expect. :-)

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces (I used 1/2 C)

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
To Make the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
To Make the Meringue:Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Springing Back

My how the weeks fly by when you look back at it, huh? When you're in the day to day, it seems to drag on forever but at the same time you can't believe it when the weekend is here and you find that time has just passed you by and you haven't updated your blog. So here I am debating what to put on my blog with all the pictures that I have taken from school now that the Spring Semester has arrived.

My schedule is definitely better this semester in that I only go to school 2 days instead of three so that saves me 3 hours of driving time. Though, Monday is SO tough for me to get through. I have class at 7:30am so that means I get up at 4:30am to leave by 6am. My first class is Intro to Pastries and that runs till 1:30pm, sometimes 2pm and my 2nd class starts at 2pm till 9pm or later. That class is Advanced baking and we make desserts for the restaurant that is open on Monday nights. Then on Thursday I have class at 4pm - a 3 hour class on principles of hospitality. You think that it would fly by right? Not quite. Besides learning about the hospitality industry, I learn about the happenings in people know, generally about things I honestly don't care about. Like the fact that you have only ever traveled on British airways and that you have to travel with your luggage on the same plane. Wait...does that coincide with restaurant hospitality?

Our first week, in both labs we made cookies. I made enough cookies that day to last me for a life time and I don't think I will ever make these cookies on my own. For example, the bullseye above. I used to LOVE similar cookies like that when I was in New Zealand, but perhaps it was just the jam that we used, I didn't even taste it, I just smelled it and I mentally gagged and lost my appetite.
Last week we made lady fingers and surprisingly, I REALLY enjoyed these. They were simple to make and even more delicious than I had ever thought they would be. I have only ever tasted the store bought lady fingers, that I used at work for the tiramisu and needless to say those were like rock cookies or something. Well, as a matter of fact, lady fingers are in fact a sponge cake. That is news to me at least. Maybe I have been living in a cave.
In advanced baking, we made puff pastry, which honestly didn't take us that long. Only 2 1/2 hours. So we were lucky and got outta there by 6pm. I got out later cause I was the clean-up checklist lady. Thank goodness I got it that day because there is no way that we are going to get out early again in the semester for that class. The picture above and below are just store-brought puff pastry that we used to play around with while we were waiting for our real puff pastry to cool so we could do the trifold, simple turn and roll. We got those little balls out of the pastry below with a cookie cutter and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.
This is actually two pieces of puff pastry that we stuck together with egg wash. Stefany and I wanted to put a cherry in it and then drizzle it with chocolate sauce but chef said we didn't need to do that. It was just to play with. Well, I thought that was a yummy invention. :-) hhehee.
My mom sent me this recipe for chinese scallion pancakes which is a savory bread. I need to change the recipe a bit because it wasn't as thin and flaky and soft as I wanted to be and it lacked any scallion flavor what-so-ever, and was pretty sodium deprived. So next time, I will have to use more scallions and salt I think and maybe get a softer flour. Hey, we still ate it all - so it must've have been that bad. :-b

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Blog!

Hi you guys. I'm not switching blogs at all just to let you know and I have no intention of leaving my love of food blogging (which seems stagnant at best). Just wanted to let you know of another blog I've started.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Portland yule log

It must seem I have forgotten about this blog. Truly, I've been thinking about posting ever since Thanksgiving passed us by but it was impossible since work was SO busy up to the day we left for Portland, OR.

Brandon and I were missing home big time and we couldn't wait to get there - minus the 12 hours of flying and waiting at airports. Finally we got there and the first thing I did when I got home was hold dear ole muffy. She's so old, her legs are so skinny and I can feel her ribs. She did not want to be near me till the day before I left. Mom says it's because I left her for Brandon. She is a cutie.We stayed at my parents house for 3 nights I believe ( can't quite remember) but here we are christmas eve. We have our christmas dinner on christmas eve which works out quite nice since Brandons family has it on Christmas Day.
From Left to Right: My sister Tiff, my stepdad Jack, my momma, me (sportin Navy gear) and Brandon. As you can tell I was going for comfort. You have to have sweat pants to eat - alot.

The last day we were there, my family and I went to Vertible Quandry downtown for our traditional breakfast. For the first time in 2 years or more, I didn't order oatmeal. I ordered a spinach, mushroom and caramelized onion fritatta.
Brandon and I getting ready to leave for New Years Eve Dinner. I hardly wear my glasses but I was so tired from the plane rides that I couldn't face putting in my contacts.

Finally, I know the Daring Bakers probably think I totally forgot about the Yule Log but I didn't I swear!!!! I made it New Years Eve but while on vacation it is hard to have time to post. So my apologies and I promise I will do better. I am not sure why this happened but my mushrooms would not stand up on the stems, maybe I made the tops too big, so that didn't work well as you can see they lumped together into one big mass. My buttercream was runny and though I chilled it in the fridge and whipped it again, I have to conclude that it could only be due to the fact that I used olive oil spread instead of butter for the buttercream. I knew that it would probably happen but once in the fridge it hardened up quite well on the log. Honestly, I liked the buttercream more than I enjoyed the cake.

Yule Log

Plain Genoise:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
3/4cup of sugar
1/2cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off
1/4 cup cornstarch
One 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again
1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).
4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.
5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.
7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.
9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.
10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Chocolate Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 C melted chocolate
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. 2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth, add melted chocolate and rum.

Filling and frosting the log:
1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.
2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.
3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.
4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).
5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.
6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.
7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.
8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.
9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.
10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.
11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.